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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SD Poll: Over 40% Deny Reality of Obvious Religious Affiliation

Intrigued by the results of the recent Pew Forum survey that finds a majority of Americans denying the reality of President Obama's obvious Christianity, I threw my own online poll, asking Madville Times readers if they happen to know the religious affiliation of two relatively prominent voices in the South Dakota blogosphere: Bob Ellis and me. A quick review of Mr. Ellis's World Net News recycling site will make clear his professed Christian affiliation. A quick review of my writing (1 2 3 4 5 6) makes clear my atheist identification.

But what do readers think?

Do you happen to know what Cory Allen Heidelberger's religion is?

Christian
10 (7%)
Jewish
1 (1%)
Muslim
5 (3%)
Buddhist
5 (3%)
Hindu
0 (0%)
atheist
83 (57%)
agnostic
26 (18%)
something else
15 (10%)

Votes: 145

Do you happen to know what Bob Ellis's religion is?

Christian
66 (56%)
Jewish
2 (2%)
Muslim
4 (3%)
Buddhist
2 (1%)
Hindu
3 (3%)
atheist
6 (5%)
agnostic
8 (7%)
something else
26 (22%)

Votes: 117

At least a majority gave the right answer on both questions. Yet strong minorities—over 40% on both questions—were willing to give answers that contradict the stated and obvious truth about the religious adherence of two quasi-public figures like Bob Ellis and me.

Now we are certainly entitled to debates about whether a given person's actions fulfill the tenets of that person's declared philosophy. Fellow South Dakotan Bill Fleming offers a not-unreasonable argument for his inclination to label me an "existential Christian Buddhist." But I suspect the handful of folks who labelled me and Bob Ellis Muslim were just being honyockers... as are a number of the folks who like to say Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.

When it comes to religious faith, I suggest it's easier to simply take people at their word. If a guy says he's Christian, he's probably Christian. When I question Bob Ellis's Christianity, I'm not accusing him of being a secret Muslim or devil-worshipper or adherent of some other alienizable faith. I'm challenging him to be consistent with the beliefs he professes.

The challenges to President Obama's Christianity are of a very different and much more unsavory sort. People who say our President isn't Christian aren't challenging him to walk more righteously in the way of his Lord; they are denying facts to demonize and otherize the President, to equate Islam with anti-Americanism, and to trick inattentive voters to reject President Obama on the basis of kneejerk xenophobia rather than a cogent discussion of policy.

So knock it off, people. President Obama is a Christian. So is Bob Ellis. I'm an atheist. Bill Fleming is a groovy karma-seeker. And we are all Americans.

8 comments:

  1. God, how I love the word "honyockers."

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  2. I've been reading your recent blogs on religion with great interest. An old college pal of mine actually was able to interview Obama during the primary visit in Watertown. My friend asked his friends on Facebook what questions he should pose to the would-be president. I told my friend I wanted to know if Obama was a Christian like that he shows up to church now and then or if he truly believed in Jesus Christ and followed him or read his Bible or whatever. Cory, your atheism duly noted, but hang in here with me, my friend posed this in such a way that was the perfect journalism question. And Obama, not being 'baited' by my friend with any words easily picked up on, didn't talk about church or "God," but did talk about Jesus. If I remember the count, he said Jesus at least three times. Sounds like being a Christian to me!

    I asked my friend if I could share the .mp3 he cut for me with people in the church I then attended who swore Obama was evil and a Muslim (and that the two go hand-in-hand was the gist from these same people). I had read one of Obama's books by that point, so I knew he was a Christian...and even fairly Evangelical--not fundamentalist, but in the 'born-again' simplicity of that word.

    So, I emailed that .mp3 to church people. Only one 'pastor' listened to it and told me it was interesting and good to hear people 'say' that. I had another woman demand I NEVER EMAIL HER AGAIN ABOUT OBAMA OR OTHERWISE. She's a worship person and one of the 'lay' leaders, and she REFUSED TO EVEN LISTEN to that .mp3. I had similar reactions across the board.

    That's the problem, with as you say, not taking people at their word. It also showed me that though I wouldn't vote on a candidate based on their religion--others say they do, but they really don't. They vote the party they think God's behind--which I propose is complete and utter blasphemy to think that a human political group is the instrument of God's will.

    Even the church can't pull that off most times. :)

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  3. I normally don't care about a person's religion since I consider myself an Agnostic and don't believe in "religion" itself.

    However once you start professing your faith ad nauseam(?) that is when I start. If your words and deeds don't fit what you ascribe to, that is when I start losing respect and consider all you do with a grain of salt. Some would view this as being judgmental, but I give each and every person a fresh chance to prove me wrong everyday.

    While I may not believe in "religion" I have bothered to learn most of their basic tenets. This shouldn't be new knowledge for most of you, but the western religions are for the most part the same. They are based on the same fables and follow the same god. The main difference being who they consider is holy or is just a prophet or really nice guy who said a lot of interesting stuff. So what real difference does it make what religion you follow if they are based around the same basic ideology. At least you know they believe in a majority of the stuff you do. Not being a believer in "religion" I try to live my life by the basic rules that are set forth in all the western religions. I have broken some of those rules at times, but I like to think I learned my lesson and won't again. That's about all anyone can do.

    I voted in the poll. I selected atheist for Cory because he has stated that he is and has not given a reason to doubt that stance. As for Bob, I voted other since in my view his words and attitude don't jive with what he professes to believe, and they don't match any other faith that I know of at this time. Unless the "Tea Party" are starting a new religion as well as a political platform.

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  4. I totally meant to put my name on top of that last post. Sorry about that.

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  5. "In contrast to this stands Gandhi, who amid tensions between Hindus and Muslims in his lifetime, told his supporters: "I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, I am a Jew - and so are all of you." It is hard to imagine Tony Blair having the moral courage to stand up and say the same."

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0916-03.htm

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  6. Now, THAT's what I'm talkin' bout.

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  7. Tasi, I appreciate your thoughtful attention. I appreciate hearing rfom folks who've thought hard about faith (at least that's the impression your words give). Answering "Muslim" on a poll about Obama's is minor denial: rejecting evidence presented by a fellow believer like yourself takes denial to a much higher and disturbing level. If people won't even listen to fellow believers, then what can we do to spread the truth?

    Jim, thanks, too, for explaining your votes. Perfectly reasonable.

    And Bill: citing Gandhi is always a good way to get me to say, "Whoa, dude. That's deep." The quote you give is darn near a Zen koan for practical intercultural tolerance.

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  8. Exactly, Bill. Thank you. Unfortunate that paganism was not part of the Pew study.

    Let's always be mindful that Americans owe their insulation from war to the warriors as the self-inflicted war that led Maslov to quantify quality of life enables this conversation.

    Ellis' End Days metaphor is building camaraderie by exploiting the potential for global destruction. Maybe we should listen.

    It is time to build the means to repel anything or any threat to Earth's longevity.

    ReplyDelete

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